A new squadron of Typhoon fighter jets will be based at RAF Coningsby as part of a multi-billion pound deal signed between Britain and Qatar.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed it will supply Qatar with 24 Typhoons in a package worth around £6 billion.
As part of the deal, a joint squadron will be stationed at Coningsby with the RAF providing training and support to the Qatar Emiri Air Force.
The confirmation follows a visit to Coningsby by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson at the start of December.
In an exclusive interview, he told the News that the Government had no plans to make any cutbacks at Coningsby and, indeed, were determined to take steps to secure its future as a vital frontline base.
The jets will be assembled in the UK by BAE Systems, supporting thousands of jobs, especially at the company’s Warton site in Lancashire where it will secure work on the production line into the next decade.
The MOD says it is the biggest export deal for the Typhoon project in a decade,
Mr Williamson and his Qatari counterpart, Khalid bin Mohammed al Attiyah, oversaw the signing of the deal last month.
Mr Williamson said: “It is a great pleasure to sign our biggest export deal for the Typhoon in a decade.
“These formidable jets will boost the Qatari military’s mission to tackle the challenges we both share in the Middle East, supporting stability in the region and delivering security at home.
“As we proudly fly the flag for our world-leading aerospace sector all over the globe this news is a massive vote of confidence, supporting thousands of British jobs and injecting billions into our economy.”
The deal also includes an agreement with MBDA for Brimstone and Meteor missiles and the highly-accurate Raytheon’s Paveway IV UK-manufactured weapon for the jets.
The Defence Secretary also agreed a package of training and co-operation between the Air Forces which will see them working together more regularly, including Qatari pilots and ground-crew training in the UK.
The Coningsby squadron is a key part of that, although exact details are still emerging.
The MOD stresses Qataris will not be a permanent part of the squadron, but will be ‘integrated’ ahead of the delivery of the Typhoon aircraft.
The UK and Qatar share a close and long standing defence relationship, with a joint-exercise between the Royal Air Force and the Emir of Qatar’s Air Force just last week seeing Typhoon jets fly over the Arabian Peninsula.
The two countries share mutual interests of countering violent extremism, and ensuring stability in the region, and this purchase will deepen those ties by helping to prevent terrorism from spreading and protecting our prosperity and security at home.
Qatar is the ninth country to purchase the Typhoon, with this year seeing the first delivered to Oman.